Black Lightning Collection Marks End of Decades-Long Conflict

Black Lightning #8

Amazon has a listing for a collection of Black Lightning comics due next April that’s listed as authored by Tony Isabella. This surprised a number of observers, since Isabella has been vocal for decades about his poor treatment by publisher DC, claiming that they promised him rights and compensation for the creation of the character that were never captured in paper contracts and so never fully realized.

Isabella’s outspokenness has often prevented more visibility for the character, since the company presumably didn’t want the negative press (which could have been avoided with some kind of settlement offer, one assumes), and it was often easier just to stay away from the whole mess. Isabella also wanted to be the one to write the character, and that may not have fit in with company plans. His second go-round with the character in 1995 — after creating him for an 11-issue run drawn by Trevor Von Eeden in 1977-1978 — lasted eight issues before conflict with the editor ended that relationship.

Isabella has commented on the upcoming collection with a description of a conversation with a DC executive he calls “a good start”. He writes:

Black Lightning #8

… my understanding is that the book will contain Black Lightning #1-11 from the first series. It will also include the Denny O’Neil/Mike Nasser story scheduled for issue #12. That story was included in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade and also published in an issue of World’s Finest. I’m okay with the inclusion of the non-Isabella stories in Black Lightning Volume One because I appreciate a fan’s desire to have the entire run in one book, and also because I don’t want to deny Denny O’Neil, Trevor Von Eeden, and Mike Nasser whatever royalties they’ll receive from the reprinting of those stories. The fact that this is Black Lightning Volume One shows there is a desire on everyone’s part to do a Black Lightning Volume Two with my 1990s series.

With a growing emphasis among customers and commentators on diversity in comics, it’s about time DC reconciles with Isabella, since they need to make better use of Black Lightning, their first major black character. He’s been updated in various ways by various creators, since the original Afro and lowcut shirt don’t play today, and I’d like to read more of his stories, particularly with his daughters.

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